Tuesday, 22 September 2015

NATT SKOGEN - update

Title: Natt Skogen
Reason for update: It's the compact disc release of this previously tape-only anthology.
Format: CDr contained in a DVD-sized case with colour cover and a picture disc, released in June 2014 on Depressive Illusion Records (Ukraine), cat ref cut1151.  There is a small business card from the label contained inside the box. This CD edition drops the suffix "A Dark Jubileum" present in the title on the tape edition.
Edition: Limited to 33 unnumbered copies

Track Listing:
01. The Chanteloup Creations remixes 29.11     
02. The Wulfrune Worxx remixes  29.07

It was as long ago as May 2013 when the first review of "Natt Skogen" was written.  At the time this was a tape-only release of 166 copies that celebrated the 66th tape release from Chanteloup Creations/Wulfrune Worxx, overseen by label owner Skogen.  This CDr pressing on Depressive Illusions gives the collection a new leash of life, albeit in a pretty tiny edition, and seeing as it was released back in 2014 Nazgul had rather doubted there would be any copies left to be snapped up.  however, if the label's online shop is to be believed you can still obtain a copy for the princely sum of €6.66 so there's no excuse for not picking yours up this very day....

So what is it?  In essence, to paraphrase Nazgul's original review, it's as if Jive Bunny had raided the W.A.R. Studios and spent an evening on strong cider mashing together songs from Uruk Hai's distant past!  Both lengthy songs - split into Skogen's original releases on Chanteloup Creations, then the later releases on re-named phoenix-from-the-ashes label Wulfrune Worxx - blend together an assortment of song segments guaranteed to raise the blood and have you waving your sword in the air!

Played back to back with a more recent Uruk Hai release it's hard to believe it's the same project, such is the pace of evolution at work within the Uruk Hai DNA.  As Nazgul observed in his original review:  

"It's a roller-coaster of sound, with great fun to be had trying to 'pick the song' from the assembled sounds: One minute you're listening to some familiar instrumental keyboard refrains and the next the roaring vocals of 'Dragonslayer' from 2000s "Orcish Battle Hymns" assault your senses!  The difference from one side to the other of this tape is quite pronounced; consequently, the early years sound very much like a slightly more refined Hrossharsgrani battle-party, with various growls and guitar bursts punctuating the keyboards.  The second side, however, revels in those more lush and luxuriant songs that the Uruk Hai project evolved into, and as a result is a lot more relaxing to listen to."

For anyone starting out their collection of Uruk Hai material and missing some of the rarer early demos in the period 1999-2011 then you'll almost certainly find things on this release that you'll not have heard before.  Just bear in mind that if you are a new convert then there will be things on here that might surprise you - and once heard, you can't unhear it...!

As a feat of compilation one shouldn't underestimate the length of time that it would have taken for Hugin to choose the material, extract the relevant parts and segue them all back together again.  It's a testament to his abilities that the whole thing doesn't sound like a discordant mess of ill-fitting parts.  Being mastered for CD release the music sounds crisper and more in your face than the original tape release did, and this helps give the edition an additional oomph that is most welcome.

It's been a while since material has filtered through to the Castle from Skogen's label, so in the interests of investigative research Nazgul had a little look online to see what the situation was with Wulfrune Worxx.  The good news is that the label is clearly still out there!  The last relevant release for this blog was (I think) the 2013 tape release "Are There Dragons Behind The Moon?" from Eismond (WW440).  Let's hope for a resurgence of releases to renew the partnership between Hugin and Skogen...!

To end - you'll doubtless have been looking over the cover artwork for this release and thinking to yourself, 'my, that seems mighty familiar?'  Well ponder no more, as the image - Hugin doing his finest impression of the opening scenes in Gladiator, passing his hand through the tall grass - is the same as that used in the recently covered "Harvest" release from Bonemachine.  Who says there's no cunning plan behind Nazgul's convoluted review programme...?!

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